The intended audience may find this less interesting than educators and librarians looking for program ideas; nevertheless,...



From the Orca Origins series

A survey of birthday customs from ancient times to today’s birthday wishes on social media.

The special feature of this recently launched series is the inclusion of personal reminiscences, some of which are more unusual than others. Here, the mother-and-daughter co-authors have used some of their own, with the most compelling being Tate-Stratton’s memory of spending her 20th birthday in Japan, where she joined in Adult’s Day, Seijin no Hi, wearing an opulent kimono and participating in ceremonies at the local city hall and religious shrine. The origins of birthday customs in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome are described, as are celebrations in many contemporary countries. Special ceremonies and parties for specific ages, such as the Latin American quinceañera for 15-year-old girls, Jewish bar and bat mitzvahs (religious coming-of-age ceremonies for 13-year-old boys and 12-year-old girls), and parties for Korean 1-year-olds, are explained. The authors also call attention to birthdays for senior adults, especially in Asian countries. The color photos are excellent, and the text is well-researched (although not much is included on African countries), but the activities scattered throughout the book are less than exciting: a recipe or two (some measurements are only in metric units), a birthday calendar project, a simple game for kids younger than the target audience, and suggestions for thinking about and reflecting on the past year and goals for the next.

The intended audience may find this less interesting than educators and librarians looking for program ideas; nevertheless, a useful book. (glossary, references and resources, index) (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4598-1297-0

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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Superficial but kind of fun.


Take a magic-carpet ride to far-flung and seldom-seen locations.

Readers can follow a young, pale-skinned, khaki-clad adventurer as they set out on their magic carpet to explore unusual, unexpected, and sometimes dangerous spots around the world. Locations visited include the exclusive interior of Air Force One, the remote depths of the Mariana Trench, and the (potentially) fatal shores of Brazil’s Snake Island, among others. Each adventure follows a uniform template, whereby the location is introduced in a sweeping double-page painting with an introductory paragraph followed by another spread of images and facts. The illustrations are attractive, a bit reminiscent of work done by the Dillons in the 1970s and ’80s. Alas, while the text correctly states that the Upper Paleolithic art in France’s Lascaux cave features only one depiction of a human, the introductory illustration interpolates without explanation a probably Neolithic hunting scene with several humans from a Spanish site—which is both confusing and wrong. Trivia fans will enjoy the mixture of fact and speculation about the various locations; a small further-reading section in the back points to more information. While the potentially off-putting choice of magic carpet as conveyance is never explained, there is a disclaimer warning readers that the book’s creators will not take responsibility if they suffer calamity trying to actually visit any of these places. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Superficial but kind of fun. (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-5159-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Magic Cat

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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How and when the Western Hemisphere, particularly North and South America, came to be populated continues to be both mysterious and controversial for scientists. Archaeologists plug away with the tools at their disposal but have “more questions than answers.” Harrison does a good job setting the issue in context. He describes the earliest efforts to identify the original inhabitants of the continents, exploring the Clovis culture, believed by many to be the first humans to reach North America. After clearly explaining how scholars decided that they were first, he then lists the arguments against this hypothesis. In the course of looking at both sides, he introduces young readers to “the strict rules of archaeology.” The author demonstrates the precise work of those attempting to understand the hidden aspects of human history and how many of these old questions are seen in the light of new technologies and discoveries. The narrative is aided by both photographs and original illustrations that imagine scenes from both the distant past and the field experiences. (glossary, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-59078-561-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2010

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